With the Centre declaring eight districts in Punjab suffering from widespread iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), the health department is set to start on the spot testing of salt and health workers would conduct door to door test.
The IDD endemic districts consist of Jalandhar, Amritsar, Tarn-Taran, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala, Patiala, SAS Nagar and Roop Nagar.
The health department has roped in accredited social health activists (ASHA) workers who would be trained by block extension educators (BEEs) about the procedure of testing of iodine through specially designed MBI kits under the National Iodine Deficiency Disorders Control Programme (NIDDCP).
As per survey, the Union government on various occasions in the past has found the prevalence of IDD in Jalandhar (23.4%), Kapurthala (8.1%) Tarn-Taran (15.9%), Amritsar (20.3%), Patiala (6.99%), SAS Nagar (6.74%) and Gurdaspur (10.1 %), after which, the government selected these areas for on the spot testing of salt.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, the state programme coordinator, IDD programme, Jasvir Bains, said that the main motive of this programme is to make people aware by testing of iodine in front of them.
Bains said that it is part of their information, education and communication (IEC) activities, in which earlier people were told through newspaper advertisements, radio spot, television, but this time, ASHA workers would visit each house in their areas to test salt.
The state programme coordinator also added that each Asha worker would visit 200 houses in next four months and a compiled report would be prepared till March 31, 2016, and an incentive of `25 would also be given to them under this drive.
A senior health officer told that a disease, goitre, usually occurs among children due to defiency of iodine, in which throat gets enlarged. It is very necessary for a person to consume 150 microgram of iodine a day, which is mostly found in salt, he said.
Owing to the excessive use of fertilizers by farmers, the quantity of iodine has been almost finished or minimised in groundwater, he said.
“Pregnant women should always keep in mind the importance of iodine as its deficiency can affect the health of the newborn, who may become mentally retarded or develop the defect in vision or hearing or speech, said the officer.
He said that salt should always be kept covered, so that iodine does not evaporate.
The officer added that ASHA workers would immediately inform the civil surgeon’s office about those houses, where the deficiency of iodine have been found.
He said that MBI kits have also arrived in the district and they would be given to Asha workers after training.